Saturday, October 06, 2012

How Jihadist ‘Smart Power’ Is Outsmarting Our ‘Smart Power’

John T. Bennett at American Thinker helps explain the consequences of the liberal reflex for accommodating violent Muslims groups, as was done recently over the Benghazi attack. Be sure you check out the link to Eugene Volokh too:

After the pitiful showing put on by the Obama administration, the extremist smells blood -- if he is Muslim. The extremist is convinced of the rightness of his cause. He has a religious fervor that many Westerners have rarely felt and would keep to themselves if they did. Westerners are indoctrinated to respond with nihilistic sensitivity in the face of every political issue or "oppressed" group under the sun. Multiculturalism has made us cower in the standoff between barbarism and free speech. "But it's so much more complex than that," insists the sophisticated liberal, and that's why their foreign policy is called "smart power."

In fact, liberals are so smart that they think condemning an amateur filmmaker will placate people who butcher girls for going to school, throw acid in women's faces for being too Westernized, and cut girls' noses off for running away from violent families. It is virtuous to appear broad-minded and adept at nonviolent conflict resolution, even when that approach would embolden extremists and guarantee more violence.

Of course, liberals would never say that they want to appeal to acid-throwers -- just to moderates. But moderates are not responsible for violence. If you're trying to reduce terrorism by limiting "offensive" speech, then by definition you're trying to appeal to the minds of the violent. Violent bigots are precisely the ones whom liberals intend to placate with their fledgling campaign of speech restriction. We don't have to placate moderates, because they aren't busy killing people. No moderate would demand restrictions on free speech for the sake of his "feelings." No moderate would expect that a sovereign nation can prevent its free citizens from making movies, including movies that are "offensive to Muslims."

So what happens when you cave to extremists in a misguided effort to reach out to moderates? That which gets rewarded gets repeated. If we reward extremism, we virtually guarantee more violence and greater demands, along with less respect for the West and our culture. There are Muslims in Canada who want every woman's face to be covered and Muslims in England who are offended by seeing-eye dogs. Muslims in one Swedish city are offended by the presence of Jews. How is the multiculturalist going to avoid those offences?

We're in a confrontation between the Enlightenment and barbarism, and the Obama administration has been thrown back on its heels, as liberals in the media and academy prepare to defer to the barbarians. In fact, our own State Department's legal adviser wants the First Amendment to bend to foreign law, including hate speech codes -- precisely the mentality that will have a growing influence if we get more Obama court appointees. The liberal approach to free speech today has no basis in our Enlightenment heritage, or in the First Amendment, and much less in the American tradition of peace through strength. Instead, liberals are responding to a foreign policy crisis with multicultural orthodoxy.

Now, esteemed figures are calling for free expression to be balanced with nebulous "responsibilities." We must censor ourselves and others if someone might irrationally act out after hearing something we say. Such "responsible" self-expression would have the same calming effect on the extremist as blood in water has on the shark.

First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh, in a fantastic piece of clear and sober reasoning, points out that the Obama administration is about to teach a lesson to extremists: "[I]f you want to shut up the blasphemers, just kill enough Americans in response."

The immediate question is how far this administration will go to limit free speech. With the arrest last weekend of "Innocence of Muslims" filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the government took a step toward official intimidation. The administration is unquestionably on record supporting officially endorsed (as opposed to officially imposed) self-censorship: the highest levels of government are proclaiming, "The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," as the secretary of state said, or that "the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," as the president did.  (“Shut Up or Die, the Muslim Protesters Explained”).


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